Six Easy Ways To Become A Better, Healthier Truck Driver in 2019
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation declared truck-driving as Canada’s second most common occupation. It stated that one in thirty-five men aged 20 and 64 work as truck drivers. From the 107 truck drivers who pass through southern Ontario’s famous highway stops, more than half of them complain of musculoskeletal pain, specifically on their low back.
A survey on 3,500 human resources and management professionals done by HireRight, a provider of on-demand employment background checks and drug testings, revealed that 41% saw “health issues” as the main reason truck drivers quit their jobs. The same survey saw transportation firms acknowledge the value of truck drivers’ health as well as the importance of a wellness program to retain truck drivers in their ploy.
Though most Canadian carriers do promote the safety and health of truck drivers by providing them with holistic programs, there are numerous ways long-haul drivers can take charge of their own wellness. The following are effective habits truck drivers can do on their own to manage their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Truck drivers take the easy route when it comes to their diet. Most of them grab whatever food is accessible to them while on the road. Many opt for easy-to-get and easy-to-eat fast food options. However, Tanya Joliffe, the trucking industry’s wellness education health coach, recommends the following actions drivers can take in order to make significant changes to their diet. Joliffe suggests that small changes matter as long as they stick to it regularly and consistently.
● Choose pre-washed and pre-cut bags of lettuce, spinach, vegetables, and fruit, instead of processed junk food. These could be easily purchased from numerous grocery stores and gas stations.
● Bring whole fruit pieces as snack food items.
● Opt to consume grilled meat instead of fried. You can choose to bring a portable grill in order to make it easy for you to eat healthily while on the go.
● Lessen the portion sizes of foods you eat.
● Drink water instead of soda
● Stock your truck’s refrigerator with nutritious snacks
● Start your day eating protein-rich food items such as eggs or Greek yoghurt. Avoid having doughnuts or candy bars for breakfast. Truck driver Stephanie Klang has been on the road for more than three decades. She swears by the efficacy of her daily starter of whole grain bread and peanut butter. She also keeps protein bars and raisins as snacks.
● Eating a hearty ten-minute breakfast saves you time later in the day as you will no longer need to stop an extra two or three times due to grogginess or need for a pick-me-up item.
● Hydrate properly by avoiding coffee. Remeber, one of the causes of lethargy is dehydration.
● Avoid consuming sugary drinks.
● Consume nuts to stave off hunger in order to minimize spikes in blood sugar.
● If you find it difficult to drink flavourless water, add in a hint of green tea flavor to your drink – with no sugar.
Three-decades long truck driver Klang lost 96 pounds in as little as six months after exchanging chips and fries with a healthier low-carb diet. Though she still eats the occasional burger, she also takes in a more rigorous protein-rich diet of meat, green veggies, eggs, and cheese. Due to her healthy diet, she no longer drinks soda. Her blood sugar is now within normal range. Her sleep apnea similarly disappeared.
The secret is to make a positive effort each day to eat right. Significant baby steps eventually make a huge difference in the long-term.
Exercising regularly may be difficult for truck drivers due to the demands of their job. They usually drive for more than 10 hours straight, take an additional ten hours off, and return to work to repeat the entire cycle. Including a workout within this regimented schedule is a bit challenging but possible. The following are suggested ways to place in a workout or two while still keeping up with the requirements of being a truck driver.
● Bring along a folding bicycle. Then, bike around when you are at a truck stop. You can stow a folding bike in a truck’s sleeper berth compartment. If you need the space for sleeping, simply place the bike on the passenger seat. Unfold the bike when parked and ride around a nearby lot to get some cardiovascular exercise going. A few truck rest areas offer small trails which bikers can easily ride through.
● Bring sturdy running shoes and walk or jog around during times when you are parked.
● You can also bring weights, specifically those which you can use while driving. Do ensure these weights are properly secure so they will not roll on the brake, pedal, acceleration, or clutch while you’re driving.
● To further motivate you to workout consistently, use a pedometer so you can see your progress.
● Squeeze in a minimum of fifteen minutes each day to workout. You need not go to a gym or have an elaborate exercise plan. Simply use any available resource you have to maximize your heart rate.
● Use any available time you have to perform a vigorous workout. As much as possible, a maximum heart rate of 75-85% is ideal to be maintained. This number helps maximize the process of fat burning.
● Make sure to simultaneously workout numerous muscle groups.
● Eat immediately after a workout. Approximately 20 grams of protein must be consumed within thirty minutes after an intense muscle-building exercise.
● Use simple and easy-to-use items during your workout. Choose those which you can easily bring along such as a jump rope, an exercise mat, or resistance bands.
Truck driver Justin Boschee has clocked in more than 400,000 miles of road mileage as well as a few hours of exercise. These include push-ups, rope skipping, and jumping jacks. He also does shadow boxing while jogging. His fitness gear is readily available anytime he needs it. He finds the need to remain physically fit even while on the road. He insists that truckers must make exercise happen as much as they possibly can. He takes advantage of the unpredictability his schedule brings and uses it to maintain his exercise regimen.
Truck drivers are known to experience very little sleep due to the demands of their job. Statistics reveal that 27% of truckers get only six hours or less of sleep each night. A staggering 34% even nodded off during driving. Having a good night’s rest is important for any job. Sleep is a critical part of good health. The below are helpful ways to get a decent sleep while still having the energy to work hard while on the road.
● To maintain a sharp mind and body, always ensure you get a complete eight-hour sleep.
● As much as possible, train your body to be used to a regular cycle of sleep by having a consistent wake up time, and sleep time.
● If you have difficulty dozing off, wearing earplugs and a sleeper mask can help condition your body to wind down. A mask can also help increase the melatonin level of your body.
● Just because you are sleeping inside your truck’s cab mean that you can settle to use low quality sleeping items. To encourage a satisfying slumber, invest in a decent and firm mattress.
● Having a portable heater and fan on hand also encourage a peaceful slumber. These items are necessary if in case your truck breaks down. As you wait for the repair to finish, a portable fan or heater can easily keep you cool or warm.
● Invest in a white noise machine to help you block any unnecessary and disruptive noise.
Truck drivers need to experience complete sleeping hours specially during their days off. Sleeping conditions therefore need to be cosily quiet to allow them opportunities to rest and recharge.
Truck drivers’ mental health are just as important as their physical health. It is common for truckers to feel lonely due to the lengthy hours, days, weeks, and months they spend on the road away from their families and loved ones. A third of drivers surveyed reveal that working and driving all alone during the day has a significant effect on their mental health.
Truckers have explicitly expressed how their job has destroyed opportunities for them to regularly see their family, friends, and partners. Researchers have pointed to “having strong relationships” as a major predictor of good health and long life. Being connected with others trumps other factors such as IQ, income, genes, as predictors of a happy life. A deficit in social relationships are risk factors in the development of dementia, heart disease, stroke, and even the flu. The following are helpful suggestions to keep one’s mental space healthy despite working conditions that seem to promote the contrary.
● Listen to an audiobook. Truck driving can be a very monotonous job. During times when a driver is looking at the seemingly endless roads, or miles upon miles of trees, it is easy to fall into the habit of overthinking. Get audiobooks of your favorite authors and use the hours you have on the road to learn something new.
● Listen to language tapes. You do not need to become an expert in a particular language. You can simply learn a few phrases while you drive. You can use your newly acquired language to speak with people of various nationalities. Your world will open up in ways you can never imagine. Plus, being bilingual has mental health benefits. Switching from one language to another is said to decrease the risk of having a stroke.
● Listen to music. If you are used to listening to country music, you can change it up a bit by listening to classical music. Add in some Mozart or Beethoven in your playlist. Do you prefer hip hop? You can widen your musical taste by listening to a bit of world music.
● You can still connect with your family and loved ones even while you’re on the road. If you have kids, share with them pictures of places you have been in. You can also tell them in advance the locations of where you will be driving. Encourage them to research the history of the places you are going to. Once home, you can share with them pictures of where you’ve been in. It is a great way to bond with your children even if you are not physically always present with them.
Gary Artz is a truck driver during the 1970s. At that time, truck driving brought in high wages. Despite being far from his kids and family, he did his best to establish connections. He emphasized the positive aspect of the work truck driving brings, one of which is having the financial ability to provide for his kids and send them all to college.
Some truck drivers have difficulty staying hydrated during working hours.There are truckers who intentionally avoid drinking water in order to minimize their bathroom breaks. However, the cost of dehydration is lethal. Lacking sufficient amount of water in your body can cause heatstroke, mental fatigue, and even kidney problems. The following are effective tips to stay constantly hydrated.
● Consume water-rich food items. You need not chug bottles of water in order to stay hydrated. You can eat water-rich vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, and celery. All these contain more than 90% water. Fruits are also packed with hydrating properties. Watermelon, grapefruit, and strawberries are similarly made up of more than 90% water.
● You can also infuse bland-tasting water with pieces of fruits. Doing so adds a bit of zing to your drink. You get flavourful water minus the preservatives and artificial flavouring. Plus, it is 100% healthy.
● Add sparkling water to your drinking regimen. You not only stay hydrated, you also consume added minerals your body needs such as magnesium, sodium and potassium.
It is highly advisable to drink a liter or two of water per day. The human body is primarily made up of water. Drinking sufficient amounts of it helps you avoid numerous health issues. Try to keep bottles of drinking water in your cab in order to replenish your body when thirsty.
Being a truck driver brings with it varied situations which can lead some to feel angry, irritable or frustrated. Bad weather, heavy traffic, delayed shipments are few of the problems truckers have to deal with. Some resort to emotional eating or unhealthy eating in order to face different stressors they encounter while on the job. One way for truckers to de-stress is through meditation. Research reveals that meditating helps reduce stress hormones and avoid depression. It can also minimize if not remove chronic pain, increase brain function, and heighten the strength of the immune system.
Meditation can help truckers connect their mind and body in order to keep both grounded. Continued and regular meditation can help truckers focus their attention. It also minimizes the onset of racing thoughts and anxiety. The following are ways truckers can easily start with their meditation practice.
● Stay in the present moment by focusing on one specific point while driving. You can focus on the color of the scenery, or the feel of your hands on the steering wheel. You can similarly pay attention to your breathing. The point of all these is to keep your attention in the present moment.
● Meditation can also be done while eating. Mindful meditation is where one places awareness on one’s actions. Whether this is being aware of how one chews, what one eats or chooses to eat, this type of meditation promotes the understanding of why we do the things we do. It could also lead to better eating habits.
Meditation is essentially a way to step back and see your actions from a detached perspective. It allows you the freedom to relax from your usual way of thinking when reacting to different situations. There are literal spaces available where truck drivers can pull over and sit with nature thanks to the slew of rest stops available in different parts of the country. Meditation is also an effective way to feel soothed and re-focused after many hours of being on the road.
Choosing to live a healthier life this 2019 will bring positive results that will last you a lifetime. The more you make a conscious effort to better yourself, the easier your life will be. These habits will eventually become a necessary part of your routine, until it naturally forms part of your day to day life. Never tire to improve yourself. Staying healthy will not only do your job good, it will also allow you to live a productive personal life.
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